Camera surveillance becomes smarter with AI technologies
Source: Amanda Tsai
Edge-based AI technologies have becoming increasingly available and affordable for camera vision applications. Ability has evolved into a leading OEM/ODM solution provider for edge AI cameras and here the company explains how it can help to connect and reshape the eco-system for the future.
Traditional surveillance camera systems are facing increasing difficulties when they are used for modern vision applications. The legacy hardware and isolated platform design often lead to a long development cycle and relatively high deployment costs. In response to such challenges, several years ago, Ability set up a new Imaging System business unit focusing on the OEM/ODM business for AI-enabled smart camera systems and modules in addition to its original business for camera modules and consumer imaging devices.
According to Jonny Wu, senior director and head of the new Imaging System business unit, Ability has been investing significant resources in the development of edge-computing AI cameras already for many years. These smart cameras have an integrated processing unit dedicated for deep neural network inferencing vision applications. For example, the Ability AI-Vue and AI-Cube cameras, both powered by an embedded Intel Movidius Myriad X VPU with full support for Intel Distribution of Openvino Toolkit, allow developers to quickly take a suitable AI model from its Public Model Zoo repository for rapid deployment, or to port their own proprietary algorithm onto the edge camera for effective deep neural network computing performance.
The hierarchical system architecture and customised development platform allows Ability’s smart cameras to fully support other SOC processors if needed. The highly flexible and customisable features of these smart cameras also provide Ability’s customers with innovative products that have the best cost-performance ratio. In addition, with the introduction of Intel Distribution of the Openvino Toolkit and the Ability customisable SDK toolkit, Ability smart cameras essentially represent a fundamental platform featured with software defined functionalities such that different deep learning algorithms can be uploaded via Over-The-Air (OTA) and executed on the camera edge at any time. This innovative design concept also allows the business model of “AI-as-a-Service” to become technically possible and economically affordable to valued customers and vertical markets.
For the last few years Ability’s smart AI cameras have been widely used in several different applications around the world. For example, Ability partnered with Vsblty Groupe Technologies Corp., a leading provider of security and retail analytics technology, and co- developed a first-of-its-kind high resolution camera with integrated inference logic particularly for smart retail and smart city applications. These smart cameras are currently being deployed in Benito Juarez, a borough of Mexico City, Mexico to improve public safety in the city.
In addition, Ability has also been working with a local partner in Malaysia to deploy Ability smart cameras in the ITMS (Intelligent Traffic Management System) system that provides services for automatic number plate recognition, electronic enforcement system, traffic light violation detection, speeding detection, video incident detection, automatic traffic counter and classifier, and adaptive traffic control, etc.
“It is imperative for end users and system integrators to consider the complexity and difficulty of the different scenarios that smart city and traffic applications often have to cope with,” prompted Jonny. For example in the traffic monitoring application the cameras are normally mounted with height and distance outdoors and with a tilted viewing angle, where not only the camera robustness and maintenance readiness become an issue, but where also the quality and clarity of the captured image are extremely important for the AI functionality to work properly. And to overcome these challenges, Ability had adopted several technology improvements in their smart AI cameras such as the best-in-class IP and IK rating of the camera housing, using a Sony Starvis 2MP image sensor with a 5-50mm 1－ Auto Focus lens optimised for Ability’s proprietary 3A algorithms and Super HDR Pro (HDR+WDR) feature, all of which have made Ability smart AI cameras ready for harsh weather and environmental impact as well as the constantly changing illumination conditions over time.
As a Microsoft AEDP partner, Ability is also able to supply its powerful smart camera solutions to Microsoft’s Azure partners for various smart retail applications. Furthermore, as Ability’s full line of camera portfolio is NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) compliant, customers in the U.S can rest assured that the products they are getting from Ability will be in good hands.
In Taiwan, Ability has been deploying its smart AI cameras for new applications and market segments including smart healthcare, public worker safety, smart parking and e-vehicle smart charging management. For example in the smart healthcare segment, there have been a number of public or proprietary AI models available for face recognition and to detect if a mask or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is properly put on. These safety monitoring features have become so welcomed and essential during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak for places like healthcare institutes, public facilities, even working factories and construction sites.
“The power of running AI application on the edge device is reshaping the future landscape for surveillance camera”, continued by Jonny. “We are definitely excited to embrace this wave of technology breakthrough and look forward to exploring all new possibilities every day.”